It seems sad that BoJo’s Telegraph column is one of the few things I can bear to comment on today. Perhaps the fact that the Left now want people to boycott the Guardian because it isn’t left-wing enough is just too much for me to talk about right now, I don’t know. I suppose Boris is as close as we get to someone who is still trying to come up with things that are supposed to work on the Leaver end of the political spectrum, and given his ambitions, are even more relevant as a window into where the next few months might take us.
The article begins with a summation of events in Brexitland since June 2016. It isn’t a bad one, actually, and is the least problematic portion of the piece. It then sets out why Chequers is a disaster, again, fairly well; the final bit of the article is Boris’ “solutions” to the Brexit conundrum, centred on six main action points. This is where, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, things fall down, at least as a logical plan. Boris himself pretty much concedes within the article that it is almost certainly too late to do anything he is suggesting, even if it would have theoretically been the way to go from the start. On this, he has a scintilla of the truth on his side: had the decision been to go for some version of Canada with the Irish border question then being the main sticking point, that would have admittedly been better than what May did. Which was, muddle around with no plan for more than a year after having initiated the Article 50 process.
Yet coming up with something better than what May has done already – low bar though that is – consists of all Boris actually has to do right now. And that is the point of the article I think some are missing here. What Boris is laying the groundwork for is Brexit failure and that being the fault of Theresa May entirely. As in, the whole thing would have worked had I been prime minister from the summer of 2016; sadly, we are where we are now, and all options need to be put back on the table (including, hush, hush, never going to say it out loud, R-E-M-A-I-N). He wants to create a narrative out of the current chaos that both gives him the best chance of getting to Number 10 and once there, the most wriggle room possible.
This is why the stuff that Boris is writing for the Telegraph at the moment cannot be judged on the text; the subtext to them is everything. He’s trying to create a story about Boris Johnson saving the country. He’s not sure how that happens yet, but he’s figured out the next step. Which is more than anyone else around him has done, so give him some credit on that one. One eyed man in the land of the blind and all of that.